Sounds of Candlemas: Thomas Tallis’ Videte miraculum

Candlemas, also known as The Feast of the Purification, is observed on or around February 2 on the Christian calendar. It’s a liturgical celebration that has inspired numerous works of art, such as the Byzantine painting above and at least three of J.S. Bach’s cantatas: Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde (BWV 83) (1724), Mit Fried und Freud ich fair dahin (BMV 125) (1725), and Ich habe genug (BWV 82) (1727). The last of the three remains the most recorded of all of Bach’s cantatas. It opens with a dark, dreamy aria in which a poignant oboe obligato weaves in and out of the tonal fabric. This richly melancholy work has to be among Bach’s most soulfully expressive. 

But let’s rewind two hundred years from J.S. Bach and hear another piece written for Candlemas, Videte miraculum by Thomas Tallis (1505?-1585), one of England’s greatest composers. Tallis’ sensuous six-voice polyphonic texture grows out of plainchant. It floats with the kind of timeless, circular serenity that contemporary composers such as Arvo Pärt have rediscovered. Within this timelessness are occasional moments of powerful, euphoric arrival…or perhaps this music is constantly arriving. Listen to the imitation between voices (in the opening on the word, “miraculum”), the occasional crunching dissonances, and those ethereal moments when the soprano line soars into the highest register. 

Five-hundred-year-old music which speaks to us as if it was written yesterday:

  • Stile Antico’s recording of Thomas Tallis’ Videte miraculum (featured above): iTunes, Amazon
  • J.S. Bach’s Ich habe genug BWV 82: iTunes, Amazon

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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